Monday, November 23, 2015

Project 1X1: Ride Report

Pretty much the finished state of affairs now....
Project 1X1: Ride Report: Okay, so how does it all ride? The 26 inch wheels I built using Velocity Cliffhanger rims and Velo Orange hubs suggests a not very lightweight build and perhaps a dead, wooden feeling wheel. However; even before I mounted the Surly Extraterrestrial tires, this bike displayed rather calm, comfortable riding manners and I was already pretty surprised by that. With the big Surly tires onboard, the ride has become even more sublime. With that said, I wanted to discuss the wheels, since they are the featured attraction here and the main reason why the bike feels as good as it does.

"Beefy" best describes the Extraterrestrial tire.
The Tire: This tire I am using has transformed the 1X1 from a fun bike I would use once in a while to one I want to ride all the time. The big, beefy tires are tubeless ready, which all Surly tires will be eventually, but these are some of the first ones to have this feature from Surly. The tires are made by Innova, like most Surly tires, but the collaboration between Surly and Innova have obviously lifted Innova's game. Innova tires weren't noted for being much of anything back in the day, but you wouldn't know it by looking at these newer tires from them.

The tread, an inverted style, has a chevron type of a look to it and the negative spaces are textured to add a bit more grip in looser terrain. These tires are not lightweight, XC racer boy treads. The weight on my scale was 930/940 grams each. Or in other words, there are fat bike tires that weigh in this range. Surly isn't known for XC, weight-weenie stuff, so no surprises here. Beefy, durable, reliable- yes. Well, at least one would hope these tires would follow in the footsteps of Surly's past efforts.

Okay, so now about their tubelessness, which was a big deal for me. I mounted the first bead on the Cliffhangar rim with great difficulty by hand. The second bead....no way. I had to lever it on with my Maxxis tire lever. Tight? Oh yeah! I actually used a tire lever to mount both beads of the second tire, as my hands were roached after doing the first bead by hand. Tossed in a little of this Velowurks sealant, which is good to -30°F, and pumped up both tires with a floor pump. Easy. No drama in setting these up at all.

The Cliffhangar rim and Surly Extraterrestrial tire work perfect as a tubeless combo.
The tires were set to 20psi and the ride was smooth, as fast as I would expect, and the big volume of the Extraterrestrial simply was awesome. I loved it straight away. Not too bouncy at all, but very damped and not at all stiff, which was a surprise given the sidewall breaker barrier and puncture protection under the tread. Usually those types of features make tires feel dead and roll horribly. Nothing could be further from the truth with the Extraterrestrials.

The Cliffhanger rims really matched up well here and I feel like I should be able to run whatever pressures I want with no fear of burping the tires. I will only say that if I had a disc brake bike I definitely would have opted for the Velocity Dually 26"er rim, as I feel that would have added the capability to go to insanely low pressures for slippery Winter riding and the tires would have had great sidewall support. Imagine that set up on a Big Dummy. Oh yeah!

That said, I couldn't be happier so far with how this has come out, The tires are 61mm wide at the widest point, and my fenders are just shy of that, but they seem to do okay with the big tires anyway. The Cliffhanger rims make the tread area really arch up into a pronounced "C" shape profile, so I have great turn in on corners and the tire rides up on its central part of the tread at anything over 20 psi. Under that, things get cushier and more traction action is happening. The Cliffhanger rims, at 30mm outer dimension width, are probably the widest tubeless rim brake track rims out there for this sort of bike, and their quality is outstanding. With the fit these rims have with these tires, you'd almost swear that they were designed for each other. It really is quite a remarkable set up.

Lower than 20psi pressures really plant the tread down where you need it when things get slippery.
So, the wheels have been absolutely perfect so far. The rims built up really well, the hubs are incredibly smooth, and free wheel/fixed options are there. The tires added the icing to the cake with perfect tubeless fit, smooth ride, and available traction when you air them down a bit. The bike is a blast to ride now, simple in function, and utilitarian in purpose. I'll add a light, maybe a bag or something to carry things in, and I'll have my new townie rig.

It is pretty surprising that an old, simple dog like a cantilever brake 1X1 could be such a blast and so useful, but there ya go. Bicycles are awesome no matter the wheel size, if they have been designed well and set up with carefully considered, quality components. I look forward to thrashing some urban rides and maybe even some mountain biking come spring. In the meantime, look for long term 1X1 updates in the coming months as I use the Project 1X1 as a commuter rig, errand bike, and more.

Thank You: Velocity USA for the rims, tape, spokes, and nipples. Thanks to Surly Bikes for an awesome tire, and making it tubeless, that was great of you guys and gals. Velo Orange for the super smooth hubs. Finally- thanks to all six previous owners of this frame/fork for keeping the circle unbroken.

7 comments:

Michael Lemberger said...

What a great time to be into bikes. Hey, do you think that rim/tire combo would fit your Schwinn High Sierra? I've got a nice one of those sitting around thinking it might like some modern wheels...

Guitar Ted said...

Michael Lemberger- Indeed! It is a great time to be into bikes. You know that I also have a High Sierra, right? It's an older one though- with roller cam brakes front and rear. On mine, the answer is a definite NO WAY! These tires are far too fat for that old bike, but a newer High Sierra? I cannot say. Keep in mind my tires are 61mm wide....so far....and that may help you determine what may fit your High Sierra.

Ari said...

I run maxis 2.5 hookworms on the wife's big dummy and those barely fit on the back. Those big tires sure enhance the ride quality of any bike. Ari

Doug Mayer said...

Having spent some time on the Schwalbe Big Apple 26x2.3, I can't agree more that a big, low-tread 26" 'balloon tire' makes a MTB so much fun!

Nick Templeton said...

Funny you should mention these tires and Velocity Duallys on a Big Dummy because that's exactly what I have in mind for a future project. Do you think that setup would fit without issue? Or perhaps Velocity Blunt 35s instead of the Duallys?

Guitar Ted said...

@Nick Templeton: I think it would work. I remember my friend Ben Witt had a Big Dummy set up with Marge Lites (65mm) and some 2.3" Bontrager XR1's which was totally awesome.

Michael Lemberger said...

I remember seeing yours and that's why I asked. mine is maybe a year or two newer, with canti mounts, and I'm currently running some Big Apples on a set of wider Araya single-wall rims. When I asked, I was thinking they were the 2.35" version, but now that I think of it, maybe they're the 2.1". If I have the 2.1" set in there, I'm sure you're right...gotta check.